Gym-phobic grandmother sets up park ‘booty camp’

Cheryl Brocklehurst, with the 'booty camp' members in Vernon Park
Cheryl Brocklehurst, with the 'booty camp' members in Vernon Park

What started out as a fitness class in a friend’s back garden has become a success with over 30 regular attendees now taking advantage of a weekly ‘gym-phobe booty camp’ at Vernon Park, Stockport.

Cheryl Brocklehurst, 51, is the brains (and brawn) behind the group.

Having battled her own body confidence issues to shed seven stone and become a qualified fitness instructor at Stockport’s Life Leisure, Cheryl said: “The ‘booty camp’, as I call it, is specifically for women and men who don’t really engage with the gym – or at least don’t have the self-confidence to yet.

“The whole thing just started off as having a laugh in the garden with my friend to help us both be more active and snowballed from there.

“We’re now simply a great bunch of odd bods having fun in the park every Sunday.

“We play games like leap-frog, horses and riders, and heads, shoulders, knees and toes – it’s about being active but not really thinking about exercise.

“People get fitter and gradually build up their self-esteem at the same time. It’s great to be part of.”

Inspiration for the boot camp came from Cheryl’s own experience of taking the first steps towards improved fitness.

The grandmother-of-five from Brinnington previously weighed 23 stone and was incredibly self-conscious.

“When I first took up running I would only ever go out at night just so people wouldn’t see me, so I know exactly what it’s like to feel self-conscious about exercise,” she adds.

“I was your typical ‘fat bird’ stood in the corner not wanting to get stuck in. It was hard, everyone was jumping around and really fit, I felt out of shape and out of place. I couldn’t even lift my leg up to do the leg stretch.

“But I made quite a lot of friends, and as the weeks passed, I began to really enjoy it. I lost about a stone just going to the classes.

“It was a whole new world. I realised I could do more than I thought I could which was a great feeling, my PT Nigel was really encouraging too. He identified the things that I loved to do and organised our fitness sessions around that, like boxing and weight-lifting.

“The nerves I felt about first stepping into a gym, and then the benefits I felt from focusing on what I found fun, inspired me to become an instructor and to help others tackle their self-confidence issues to have a great time and be more active.”

Cheryl Brocklehurst puts the class through its paces
Cheryl Brocklehurst puts the class through its paces

The new-found fitness fan has already run six 10ks and the Manchester Half-Marathon, in addition to running the booty camp and sessions at Life Leisure.

Cheryl got on so well with her personal trainer Nigel Wilkes, she helped him set up Zestus Fitness with his business partner Shane Lee,  also based in Stockport.

  • ‘Brockie’s Booty Camp’ takes place at 9am every Sunday, starting at the bandstand in Vernon Park. Anyone is welcome to go along.
  • For more information you can contact Cheryl on or go to the Facebook page, Brockie’s Bootycamp.